Nonetheless, for 37 percent of Americans, up from 30 percent in August 2012, discomfort with their current level of debt weighs on their overall economic sentiment. Another 48 percent of Americans reported discomfort with their current level of savings for college, retirement, or a rainy day, further depressing an otherwise brighter economic perspective.

Outlook among Lower Income Households Remains Negative

Lower income Americans’ sentiment declined this quarter, but remains far more upbeat than in recent years. The Citi Economic Pulse is -18 among those earning under $30,000, 2 points lower than in June 2013, but substantially better than when it sunk to -29 at the depths of the downturn in August 2011. For families earning $30,000 to $50,000, the Pulse dropped to -5, down 8 points from June 2013, but substantially higher than -24 in August 2011.

Debt and savings levels similarly weigh heavily on the minds of lower income families. Only 33 percent of families earning under $30,000 say they are somewhat or very comfortable with their level of savings (down from 40 percent in June), while 43 percent of families earning $30,000 to $50,000 say they are comfortable (down from 55 percent in June). Similarly, just 51 percent of families with incomes under $30,000 report feeling comfortable with their current levels of debt (down from 55 percent in June), while comfort with debt among those earning $30,000 to $50,000 has dropped to 57 percent (down from 67 percent in June).

Gift Wish List from a Wealthy Secret Santa

Even in their imaginations, Americans are focused on mitigating their discomfort with their savings and debt levels and are practical about their dreams. When asked what they may want from a very wealthy Secret Santa, lavish gifts such as jewelry, a new wardrobe, plastic surgery, or a new car, fell to the bottom of list while more practical choices rose to the top. Americans said they would want a house or new place to live (23 percent) or have their credit card bills paid off (19 percent). The next most popular response, a vacation, came in at 15 percent.

If you liked this article you might like

Fed Pares $4.5 Trillion Balance Sheet But Easy-Money Era Isn't Over

Bank Stocks Move Higher as Fed Decides to Start Unwinding Balance Sheet

Bank Stocks Move Higher Ahead of Federal Reserve Meeting

All Eyes on the Godfather of Central Banking as Fed Has Huge Meeting This Week

The Stock Market Stinks and the Stench Is Going to Get Much Worse Soon